Montana Supreme Court Commission On Self-Represented Litigants Wins Case on Use of Its Copyrighted Forms

It’s a default judgment, but significant nonetheless.

The Montana Supreme Court Commission On Self-Represented Litigants won a case about improper use of its forms by a commercial organization called “Legal Aid Administration, LLC”, (described in the complaint as a “limited liability company organized under the laws of Florida, doing business in the State of Montana” and referred to, perhaps confusingly, throughout the Order as “Legal Aid”.  Here is the Order.

Some key paras from the Order, entered and filed June 29, 2011:

3. A true and accurate copy of the Plaintiff’s copyright registration for the Introduction to Family Law in Montana, as issued by the Untied States Copyright Office and dated August 31, 2005, is attached to the complaint as Exhibit “A.”

4. The Montana Supreme Court Commission on Self-Represented Litigants labeled the base of each page of its Copyrighted Materials with a statement providing “© 2007 Montana Supreme Court Commission on Self-Represented Litigants and Montana Legal Services Association. Use of this form is restricted for not-for-profit purposes.”

5. On or about March 30, 2010, Legal Aid contracted with a citizen and
resident of Montana in a document entitled “Service Agreement.”

6. Pursuant to the Service Agreement, the Montana citizen was required to
pay $389.00 for certain services performed by Legal Aid, which included preparation of legal documents.

7. Legal Aid provided to the Montana Citizen legal documents substantially similar (if not identical to) the Plaintiff’s Copyrighted Materials.

8. The materials provided by Legal Aid included the statement providing “© 2007 Montana Supreme Court Commission on Self-Represented Litigants and Montana Legal Services Association. Use of this form is restricted for not-for- profit purposes.”

6. Legal Aid’s actions of copyright infringement were willful, malicious, intentional, and designed to usurp the goodwill and intellectual property of the Plaintiff. Accordingly,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504, a Monetary Judgment is entered against Legal Aid in the amount of $20,000.00 in favor of the Plaintiff. This judgment against Legal Aid shall accrue interest from this day forward at the legal rate of 10% per annum.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Legal Aid, its directors, and its officers
are permanently enjoined from manufacturing, producing, reproducing, distributing, marketing or developing works derived from, copied from, or substantially similar to the Copyrighted Materials.

I do not need to underline the value of maximizing free access to materials such as these.  Thanks to Judy Meadows for her work and information on this.  For additional information, contact her at the Montana State Law Library.

We reported earlier on this case.

Update:  Here is Judy Meadows report on the case.

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About richardzorza

I work in access to justice.
This entry was posted in Access to Justice Boards, Forms and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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